MILWAUKEE -- Tampa Bay has been fortunate over the course of the past several years by having a string of stellar-fielding first basemen in Travis Lee, Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman.

Skipper Joe Maddon was asked to compare Kotchman's glovework to that of Pena's, who won a Gold Glove while with the Rays.

"They're pretty similar," Maddon said. "I mean, Carlos did win the Gold Glove a couple of years ago. I'd say they're equally as good defensively. They both pick it. Regular ground ball, equally well, ball in the dirt, equally well."

  • 131 wins
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Kotchman is not particularly graceful, nor fleet afoot, so how does he stack up against 'Los when it comes to range?

"I haven't seen [range] being a problem for Casey," Maddon said. "In spite of Casey not being fast, he gets to balls. I haven't seen balls get by him that I thought he should have had."

Maddon noted that the only advantage Pena might have when compared to Kotchman was getting to popups past the bag, whether in shallow right field or foul territory.

"Carlos was really good at that," Maddon said. "He was pretty good going down the line."

Kotchman entered Wednesday's action leading Major League first basemen in fielding percentage (1.000) for the fourth consecutive season. He last made an error on Aug. 10, 2010, at Yankee Stadium while with the Mariners, and he has gone 94 games without an error since.

Kotchman has just one error in his past 360 games and he has just nine errors in 5,315 total chances¸ which translates to an astonishing career .998 fielding percentage at first base -- the highest in Major League history among players with at least 500 games played.

Howell in Florida to get left foot checked out

MILWAUKEE -- J.P. Howell returned to St. Petersburg Wednesday morning after experiencing soreness in his left foot during Tuesday night's game against the Brewers.

"We wanted to have it checked out," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Ronnie [Porterfield, Rays head athletic trainer] doesn't think it's anything major. But it was just very sore. It's his push-off foot.

"I know that it's sore and it's bothered him. But he felt like he could pitch last night, so we used him. Afterward, it was not painful, but annoying. I think that's a better word. My biggest concern, our biggest concern, is that he would hurt his arm by adjusting to it. So we want to make sure that it's checked out good. And again, Ronnie was pretty confident that it was going to be fine. But we just want to make sure."

Maddon does not think the problem will lead to a stint on the disabled list.

"Howell really believes that it will be OK," Maddon said. "It's an injury, or annoyance that he's had before. He thinks it's relatively not impactful."

Howell would have been unavailable Wednesday anyway, after pitching back-to-back nights on Monday and Tuesday. Maddon expects the left-hander to re-join the team prior to Friday night's game in Houston.